There’s going to be some new faces on the next broadcast of ‘Monday Night Football.’
The Athletic reporter Richard Deitsch tweeted out the news Saturday, confirming that the pair, who joined the ESPN broadcast for the start of the 2018 NFL season, would not be returning for the 2020 season.
The switch means that for the third straight season, there will be a new combination of commentators for the ESPN broadcast. As Deitsch’s tweet says, the pair will still be an important part of ESPN’s programming.
A defensive tackle in his playing days, McFarland was a standout player for LSU in the late 1990s, seeing him selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 15th overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft.
McFarland went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII with the Bucs and totaled 20 sacks, before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts, eventually winning Super Bowl XLI before the end of his career.
Initially, McFarland was hired by ESPN primarily for college football coverage but McFarland joined the MNF broadcast team in 2018 as a sideline analyst after four years with ESPN as a college football personality and analyst.
After Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten came out of retirement for the 2019 season, McFarland was moved up to the booth to join Tessitore, who was also replacing Sean McDonough as the play-by-play commentator for Monday Night Football.
Tessitore has been an employee of ESPN since 2002, initially commentating on boxing and other combat sports as a focus.
Since, he’s been a play-by-play caller for ESPN’s coverage of college basketball, horse racing and college football, in which he eventually became one of ESPN’s lead play-by-play commentators for Saturday night games and the College Football Playoff.
In 2018, Tessitore replaced McDonough, who had returned to calling college football games for ESPN.
ESPN Tried to Hire Peyton Manning, Other Legendary QBs
The announcement that the pair would not be returning isn’t of great surprise, especially after the context of ESPN reportedly trying to hire NFL legend Peyton Manning and failing.
According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, the network had reached out to Manning several times since his retirement from the league, but to no avail.
The exact figure ESPN was willing to offer Manning is unknown. However, according to sources, ESPN had capped its proposed offer to Romo at 10 years and $140 million. ESPN never got the chance to put it in front of Romo because CBS signed Romo for $180 million in full value over 10 years.
Besides being Booger McFarland’s teammate on the Colts during Super Bowl XLI, Manning has other connections with ESPN, doing shows like Peyton’s Places for the network’s subscription platform.
Marchand also mentioned that ESPN has looked at other retired, or soon-to-be retired quarterbacks like Fox color commentator Tony Romo, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees or Colts QB Philip Rivers.
The coronavirus outbreak has slowed sports media, but officials are still doing business. ESPN executives may choose to take a break from “Monday Night Football” after plans to hire one of Romo, Manning, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers did not work out. At this point, it appears an internal solution is much more likely, though someone like Hall of Famer Kurt Warner could still be considered.
2020 Monday Night Football NFL Schedule
- Week 1: Steelers at Gaints, Titans at Broncos
- Week 2: Saints at Raiders
- Week 3: Chiefs at Ravens
- Week 4: Falcons at Packers
- Week 5: Chargers at Saints
- Week 6: Cardinals at Cowboys
- Week 7: Bears at Rams
- Week 9: Patriots at Jets
- Week 10: Vikings at Bears
- Week 11: Rams at Buccaneers
- Week 12: Seahawks at Eagles
- Week 13: Bills at 49ers
- Week 14: Ravens at Browns
- Week 15: Steelers at Bengals
- Week 16: Bills at Patriots
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.